A Marathoner Pursues a PhD in Art Education at Teachers College
Notebook is a Columbia News series that highlights just some of the many fascinating students who study at our University.
When Charles Moore isn’t working on his dissertation, he is most likely visiting a museum or bookstore in New York, or running a marathon somewhere around the world.
What are you studying at Teachers College, and when will you graduate?
My doctorate studies started in the fall of 2020, concentrating on Art and Art Education, after I earned my master’s degree in Museum Studies at Harvard University.
My dissertation is a deep dive into the life and career of Abstract Expressionist painter Ed Clark. I worked on the paper all summer and have made good progress. I look forward to a late 2024 or May 2025 graduation date.
What was your path to pursuing a PhD in art education?
The path dates to my early childhood. My mother, Cheryl Moore, was the first art collector I ever knew. As I grew up, I would watch her get excited about her purchases of paintings and editioned prints by artists who captured the texture of the everyday life of Black Americans.
Shortly after finishing my bachelor’s degree, I moved to New York City and worked for some time on Wall Street. I dug deep into the fabric of New York’s art museums right away, spending most of my free time browsing the galleries of the Metropolitan, the Guggenheim, and the Neue Galerie, and I even volunteered at the Jewish Museum.
In 2009, I moved to Rome for a few years and completed my MBA; I also studied Italian. Europe gave me the rich exposure I needed to Renaissance art as well as contemporary works; my real education was living in Paris, Madrid, Stockholm, Sofia, London, Amsterdam, and other Italian cities. I learned about the movements that shaped modern and contemporary artists, while discovering a passion for painters who used color in explosive ways.
On my return to New York in 2012, I began collecting art myself. After a few years of being bored as a wealth manager, I went back to school for a second masters, the previously mentioned one in Museum Studies. My experiences formed my aesthetic for putting together exhibitions. To further my knowledge of museums and how they work, I decided to pursue a doctorate at Teachers College.
Why did you write Apropos of Running?
After sitting in my apartment for three days with a nasty cold, I decided I’d had enough. I got dressed and went out for some fresh air. I walked to 59th Street and 7th Avenue—I didn’t have a clue it was marathon Sunday—where I ended up right by the New York City Marathon finish line. The expressions on the faces of the runners there so moved me that I instantly knew I would be crossing that finishing line the following year, 2016.
I started training immediately, and ran multiple New York Road Runners short distance races before the next marathon. Although the initial high I felt after crossing the New York City Marathon finish line subsided, my obsession with marathoning began. Just two weeks later, I ran the marathon in Philadelphia. In 2017, I completed another 11 marathons, and by the end of 2019, I had 19 marathons under my belt. Whenever I’d tell this story, the response was always, “You should write a book about it!”
I won a fellowship from Tracksmith, the running apparel brand, to write a memoir. By August of 2022, the manuscript was complete. After a hiatus due to the pandemic, I ran marathon numbers 20 and 21 at the end of 2022. In March of 2023, I ran the Tokyo Marathon, thus completing all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a feat accomplished by only a fraction of global marathon finishers.
What other books have you written?
I’ve written three other books—The Black Market: A Guide to Art Collecting, The Brilliance of the Color Black Through the Eyes of Art Collecting, and Israel’s Transformative Black Artists, which chronicles the lives of seven Ethiopian Jewish artists.
What are your plans post-Columbia?
I enjoy curating exhibitions and writing about art, and I expect to continue this. But what brings me the greatest satisfaction is writing books.
Do you like studying in New York? Any recommendations for how to make the most of the city?
I love New York. I frequent the Harvard Club, and use it as a workspace, a place for meetings, and for interacting with other members. I am a constant fixture at the Metropolitan Opera and museums, and my all-time favorite pastime is visiting coffee shops and bookstores. I enjoy Book Culture, McNally Jackson, Shakespeare & Co., and the Strand. I like the vibe and book selection of independent bookstores. It’s also nice when they have a café.